Can someone tell me what is the acceptable play in the front wheel. Awhile back when giving my wife a ride, she told me the right front was wobbling. I just jacked it up and when pushing/pulling on top of the tire I'm getting about 1/8" of play. I tried tightening up the castle nut to see if that would help, but it will not tighten anymore. Shouldn't that nut tighten until the wheel stops rotating? Both front wheels react the same (can't tighten). Is this telling me I need new bearings?
The outer bearing inner races are threaded - right hand threads on the left side and left hand threads on the right side. To adjust, the castle nut must be loosened, then inner race turned, then castle nut re-tightened. The washer between the nut and the race is keyed to the spindle but may allow a little rotation in the tightening direction of the inner race when the castle nut is tightened, so a little loose before tightening the nut works best, in my opinion anyway.
If bearings are noisy (less than great condition), loose is way better than having any preload, again, in my opinion.
1. Usually when someone is driving a car and someone sees a wheel wobbling – it is caused by either the wheel, rim, tire, (and axle for a rear wheel), or some combination of those being out or tolerance or not running true. See: http://www.mtfca.com/discus/messages/29/50259.html?1205615154 for a current posting on that issue. That can be checked easily by jacking up the wheel, turing it slowly by hand and placing a block of wood or other similar non moving object next to the tire, also rim, also fellow. The tire, rim, and fellow should all stay the same distance from your gauge block. If they don’t – then something is wrong. Even with a poorly adjust front bearing – with the weight off the wheel you should be able to check and see if the wheel, rim, fellow, & tire is true or not. I suspect one of those caused the “wobble” your wife saw. And yes – she probably saw some.
2. When you describe jacking the front wheel up and pulling and pushing on the top of the wheel and there is approximately 1/8 inch of movement at the top – that normally is caused by worn kingpin bushings and/or worn kingpin. One simple way to check to see if it is the bearing or the kingpin is with the front wheel jacked up (be sure the car is chocked – if it falls on foot etc it can do a lot of damage) move the top of the front wheel in and out. You said that gave you approximately 1/8 inch of movement. Do that same moving of the top of the wheel. While doing that look at the spindle. Is the spindle moving – if so then probably spindle bushings or spindle bolt or both. Is the hub on the spindle moving – that is easier to see by taking the hub cap off and looking while someone pulls and pushes on the top of the wheel – if so adjust and/or replace bearings if needed. Or do both have some play in them? You can also wedge a piece of wood between the spindle and that front axle to take up any play in the kingpin and bushings. Now if the wheel still moves 1/8 inch at the top when you push and pull – it isn’t the kingpin or kingpin bushing but rather something else.
3. There is also the possibility of the rim being lose or the spokes being lose, or the hub flange being lose. In the normal wear and tear of things normally the kingpin bushings wear first, but something else could be causing the problem.
4. How much play is acceptable? As a teenager my standard was “as long as it didn’t cause you to go into the ditch, the other people would probably get out of the way.” Somewhere along the way I lost the “it can never happen to me attitude” and also with today’s liability issues I would never drive my 1915 (that we routinely drove as a teen) before fixing all the lose steering parts! It was exciting but I would like to be around a little longer and I don’t want to destroy a T either. This is where inviting some old T folks over could be very helpful. First you can make some friends and second it is much easier to look at your wheel and then say “That’s a lot less than the wobble/slack in my touring or whatever that I’ve routinely been driving for years. Or – recommend you rebuild this part before you drive it over 10 miles an hour etc.
5. I hope that give you some additional ideas. Seth’s comments about the front wheel bearings are great. I suspect they are not your wobble problem that your wife saw. But it would still be good to check them.
6. I would be remiss if I didn’t ask: No rush, but when you get a chance please take a look at your roadster’s (not the speedster’s) right front floor board riser and see if there is a body number stamped into it or not. If there is, please let me know what you find.
Hap Tucker 1915 Model T Ford touring cut off and made into a pickup truck and 1907 Model S Runabout. Sumter, SC.
Thanks guys for the prompt, informative replys.
It took me awhile, but I finally figured out the left/right hand threads on the castle nuts. I'll try adjusting the inner races to see if that makes any difference.
Thanks for the detailed check list, I'll go thru it and report back as to what I found. I'll also ck the roadster floor board riser for any numbers. It may take me a while as the roadster is on the hoist up in the air, with the speedster tore apart and under it (hard to get to).